Kentucky's last two games against Arkansas and South Carolina have produced a couple of interesting team statistics - unusual swings in offensive and defensive efficiency.
UK has won every game this year when it had a defensive efficiency better than 102. When the number goes above 102 (higher is worse), things get a little muddier.
For one thing, we have lost 5 of 8 when our defensive efficiency is >102. But a closer look is in order. In the games we have won with poor defensive efficiency, it is because our offensive efficiency was outstanding (>120 in each case). We have won every game where our OE was > 100, and 5 games where it was less than 100 because of outstanding DE.
So what does this mean? Well, so far the 'Cats are undefeated when our OE is very high, regardless of our DE. We have put up some good OE numbers against tough defenders (Arkansas, DePaul, and UMass are all in or around the top 50), but it's hard to argue that we do it routinely.
Even more interestingly (and flying in the face of many Smith detractors' arguments), the correlation between pace and OE for Kentucky is a -.03 - nonexistent. Kentucky is capable of having a high OE regardless of the pace. Compare that to Tennessee, which has a +.24 OE to pace, which is a much stronger (if still fairly weak) correlation, or DePaul, who has a strong +.61 (statistically significant to 95% confidence) between a high pace and high OE. Finally, of the top 30 teams who play at a high pace, there are only 4 in the top 50 (North Carolina, Maryland, Missouri and Syracuse).
Interestingly, Florida has a very weak (-.12) but existent correlation between a slow pace and high OE. Maybe Smith should think about upping the tempo against the Gators.
Bottom line - our DE numbers are declining recently, but our OE numbers are rising just as fast. Tubby Smith is a defense-first coach, so he will focus on the declining DE as a problem, and it is. The question is, can we ever put together a game where we have a good OE and DE? Florida certainly has. Maybe we can, too.